IT Jobs: Mapping the Terrain

Take out your map of the United State and get some thumbtacks: It’s time to play a game of staffing geography. The ideal places to base your company and recruit fresh talent might not be the locations you would expect.

Last year, Deloitte & Touche’s Human Capital Advisory Services in San Jose, Calif., conducted research on behalf of two engineer-based IT companies. Their findings indicated that Silicon Valley was rife with competition, says Phyllis Klees, a principal at the firm. Back then, the situation in a nutshell was that “there’s a lot of talent there but much higher competition for talent,” Klees says. Now, “Silicon Valley has just gotten so expensive, it’s hard to get employees. It’s hard to get the middle of the market.” Instead, he says, other “tier-one” technology markets, such as Austin, Boston, Dallas, and the New York metropolitan area, which includes Connecticut and New Jersey, offer a bigger talent pool for recruiting.

Other alternatives to Silicon Valley, Klees says, are states like Colorado or Idaho, where the quality of life tends to be higher and the cost of living lower. The only problem with this idea is that “when you’re dealing with young, creative people, you want to be in the center of things. It’s difficult to be in places like Boise. You’re getting, perhaps, the less dynamic workers who are willing to go there.”

This observation coincides with research done by, a Provo, Utah, commercial job site. FlipDog’s Job Opportunity Index for January – based on a statistical weighing of the unemployment rate, the size of the workforce, and the number of job posting – shows that San Jose, Calif., San Francisco, and Boston were the three most-competitive metro areas for employers, because unemployment is low and the number of job opportunities is large, compared with the size of the workforce.

In March, FlipDog looked at the issue by state and found that the top three most-advantageous states for job seekers are Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Minnesota, in that order. Conversely, the three most-advantageous states for hiring organizations are Louisiana, West Virginia, and Montana, in that order. But the best recruiting territory, according to FlipDog vice president of marketing Brett Walker, may be the “balanced” states, where the number of job opportunities aligns more closely with the number of available candidates in the state. These include Florida, Kansas, Nevada, South Carolina, and Utah, Walker says.

Knowing who the typical employee is in different geographic areas is vital. “In the Midwest, it is typically the salaried, benefited type of person,” says Cathy Peterson, head of national account recruiting for Analysts International, a national IT-services consulting business based in Minneapolis whose clients include IBM and other Fortune 100 companies. “On the West Coast, because of the cost of living, employees want the cash in hand; they’re not so interested in the benefits.”

In the future, look for a forced exodus of workers from both Northern and Southern California as the number of job losses continues and the cost of living remains high, says Jack Cullen, president and chief divisional operating officer at Modis Inc., a provider of IT staffing services whose clients include AT&T, Sprint Corporation, Sun Microsystems, and Verizon. “We’re seeing migration out of the West Coast, even though companies are still looking at core locations like the Silicon Valley to recruit.”

Cullen says hot areas include Colorado Springs; Denver; Salt Lake City; parts of Tennessee such as Chatanooga; and the Carolinas. And though these areas are already booming, he expects that they will gain further popularity with both workers and companies.

Nevertheless, employers enjoy a greater advantage than they did even six months ago: Employees are chasing jobs, an about-face from 1999, when workers could write their own tickets. An example of this power shift is digiMine, a Bellevue, Wash., provider of online e-business solutions. A year ago, the company was still attending Seattle-area job fairs and advertising to recruit qualified candidates. “We’ve ceased those strategies for now,” says Deb M. Deitzen, digiMine’s director of recruiting. “There are more candidates available now.”

Dietzen says the combination of the loosening job market, good PR – in February, digiMine won the Washington Software Alliance’s best new product of the year award – and the company’s Seattle-area location means it is flooded with resumes. On a cost-of-living basis, “Seattle is still very attractive when you compare it to other top-tier markets like Silicon Valley and New York,” she says.

By: Caitlin Mollison

Source: Internet World


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